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Do I need Pre-Calc?


I am currently a rising sophomore. My question is do I need Pre-Calc for a chance at higher level colleges in a business or poly sci major? (Those are what I am leaning towards) Right now I am taking a Trig course at my local college and plan to take Stats next year and AP Stats the year after. You have to take stats for AP at my school. Would colleges prefer I take the AP Calc route? Stats will be one of two general classes I take next year. I want Stats, because I think it will be more useful in everyday life for me, but I am willing to change it if necessary. My guidance counselors have not been particularly helpful in this.


3 answers

answered on[edited]
Accepted answer

To an extent it depends on what you want to study. If you're aiming to study business, you will need to take/learn business calc once you get to college, and having pre-calc in high school will be pretty helpful for that. Business calculus isn't as difficult as the regular calculus that most applied science majors need to know, but you would still need a foundation in pre-calc to understand it, and taking precalc in college would probably be harder than taking it in high school.

(That said, I'm not sure if pre-calc would be redundant with the Trig class you're currently taking, because a lot of schools combine Trig and pre-calc. Maybe talk to the person who teaches pre-calc and ask them about it?)

For poly sci on the other hand, stats would be more immediately useful, and colleges won't look specifically for calculus knowledge—just that you took four years of math. So I'm afraid there's not a completely solid answer since you sound split between both. Even though business and polysci seem very similar, the math that goes into each is actually quite different. My rec would be to either take the track you're leaning more towards, or try to hedge by going the AP Stats route but trying to take pre-calc if you can fit it into your schedule. (In either case though, there's no need for AP Calc.)

Thank you! The Pre-Calc at my school is also considered Trig. I took the summer course with the intent of getting rid of the credit in college. I am leaning more towards Poly Sci, so I'll stick with stats.
answered on

I also agree with @s.f.w because I think that you don't need a preliminary course to take AP stats. I would recommend doing pre-calc and ap stats maybe next year if you want and then doing AB and then BC calc the following years. Or, you can do precalc next year, BC calc junior year, and AP stats the year after. Yes calculus can be challenge, but I think it will help you prepare better rather than taking stats.

answered on

From my own experience High School Stats are a joke, AP and all. Precalc on the other hand is quite the hairball, if you seek to challenge yourself I would suggest you go the Precalc route. Most colleges expect AP Calc BC to be done before senior year, especially if you're applying EA and ED. Hope this helps you!

"Most colleges" is a stretch. If you're applying to Ivy League schools or schools in the top 50 or so on US News's rankings, maybe—but that's the opposite of most colleges (and even then BC Calc is not a requirement). In reality *most* colleges, and by that I mean the few thousand that are not in USNWR's top 50, don't expect students to have any calculus knowledge at all when they come in.